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Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Wanda Cinema Line, the Middle Kingdom’s largest movie theater chain, has acquired a 1.9 percent stake in Beijing-based film studio Bona Film Group.
Wanda paid $44 million (RMB 300 million) for the stake, which values Bona at $2.32 billion (16 billion RMB), according to a regulatory filing.
Under the terms of the deal, all Bona-owned cinemas — 41 theaters with 336 screens across China, according to the company’s website — will be folded into Wanda Cinema Line’s circuit, either immediately or upon expiration of Bona’s existing contracts. Wanda had 401 cinemas at the end of 2016, the most in China by far.
In February, Bona signed a 30-theater deal with Imax, with plans to open open five cinemas every year from 2017 to 2022. Those theaters also will be added to the Wanda chain.
The two companies also agreed to collaborate and co-invest on future film projects.
One of China’s most established studios, Bona pulled its stock listing on the Nasdaq exchange in 2015 with plans to relist in China, where valuations for entertainment companies are considerably higher. Alibaba Pictures, Sequoia Capital and Fosun International partnered with Bona CEO Yu Dong to finance the Nasdaq delisting.
Last week, the company announced that it had moved a step closer to a Chinese stock market listing by clearing a regulatory hurdle with the Xinjiang Securities Regulatory Bureau.
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